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'Bengal worst-governed state'

india Updated: Apr 26, 2011 00:14 IST
Koushik Datta
Koushik Datta
Hindustan Times
Koushik Datta

"After the Netai incident, when chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came to me, he could not look me in the eye. What will he say when their (CPM's) leaders have been arrested and named in the chargesheet (by the CBI)," said union home minister P Chidambaram on Monday at a rally in West Midnapore.

Seven villagers were killed and about 20 injured in January after bullets were showered upon them from within a CPI(M)-patronised armoury in a place called Netai, 160 km west of Kolkata.

Chidambaram then asked Bhattacharjee to visit New Delhi immediately to discuss the continuing violence. Bhattacharjee accepted Chidambaram's suggestion but cited other engagements to avoid the meeting.

And this happened just 10 days after Chidambaram had referred to such goons as 'harmads' (derived from the Spanish word 'armada', meaning 'pirates' in Bengali) in a letter to Bhattacharjee, who had objected to the 'nasty' word.

Out on his first poll campaign in West Bengal in Monday, Chidambaram turned the Netai episode against Bhattacharjee, accusing him of taking no action against CPI(M) 'harmads' when he had been warned about them.

"Before the (Netai) incident I had told him many times and sent letters that members of the chief minister's own party were moving with arms and setting up camps. I told him I had information about the location of the camps, the leaders who were in the camps and in which houses these camps are located. He said nobody from his party was doing it," Chidambaram alleged.

He used this example, and the state's financial crisis, to argue his point that West Bengal was the worst-governed state in the country. Apart from two places in West Midnapore, Chidambaram also spoke in Canning East, South 24 Parganas.

The home minister spoke in English with an interpreter explaining the speech in Bengali to the public.